Many filmgoers have been captivated by the visual aspects of the 1955 Alfred Hitchcock
film To Catch A Thief set in the glittering landscape of the Côte dAzur. The films depiction of the beauty of the locale, as well as that
of its stars Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, was so well done that it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography that year. The movie was based on the novel
of the same name by American writer David Dodge (1910-1974), who had been similarly captivated by the allure of the graceful curves found in the
mountains and shores of the south of France and revealed on the beaches by its scantily-clad female denizens. Dodges often light-hearted preoccupation
with southern Frances visual enticements serves as a perfect foil to his taut suspense-filled works.
David Dodge helped fuel the post-World War II revival of foreign travel with his exuberant mystery and travel writing. With the exception of
his first series featuring hard-boiled San Francisco taxman James
Whit Whitney, all of Dodges mystery and suspense novels spin yarns of Americans abroad. A second series chronicling the adventures of tough-guy
private investigator Al Colby takes readers throughout Latin America. The
Balkans, Hong Kong, and South Africa all provide locales for later Dodge novels. But with three novels set in and around southern France—the Dodge family lived
in Golfe-Juan, on the Côte dAzur, for a number of years in the early 1950s—that region established itself as one of Dodges favorite settings.
Invariably, key plot points in those three novels hinge on the tortuous undulations of the landscape and the voluptuous undulations exposed when female characters
don that garment notoriously popularized in post-War France—the bikini.
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